New Skype for Business Underscores Need for Cloud Era Public Policies

Yesterday Microsoft announced that the technical preview of the Skype for Business client—the next version of Microsoft Lync—is now available for customers to try before its general release in April.

Skype for Business is based on the familiar Skype experience that over 300 million people use every day, and will greatly expand the ability of people everywhere to search for and connect with those users, whether inside or outside of their work environments. It’s a pretty cool evolution—get a further glimpse in this blog post.


As we continue to innovate and move full speed ahead into this mobile-first, cloud-first world, it’s more important than ever that our public policies evolve in ways to support this growth and foster public trust in the cloud.

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to learn more about our effort to protect the privacy of electronic communications and reach out to your lawmakers about the LEADS Act currently in Congress.

As innovations like Skype for Business show, we are marching forward—and we need supportive policies that do the same!

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VFI Webinar Replay: Microsoft + Open Source: A New Era with New Opportunities

On March 5, we hosted what turned out to be a terrific webinar with Mark Hill, Microsoft VP for Open Source Software (OSS) Sales and Marketing Strategy.

Mark highlighted the depth of Microsoft's engagement with the OSS community, and how Azure is truly a heterogeneous environment, with Linux and many other OSS technologies running seamlessly on Azure. As an open platform, Azure enables Microsoft and partners to better serve customers. It also enables partners to access OSS-on-Azure opportunities valued at $2 trillion over the next decade!

We encourage you to view the webinar replay on VFI's Channel 9 page. Please share your comments and rate the video on Channel 9. Would you like to join us for our next webinar? If you're not already receiving webinar invites, then sign up now.


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VFI Members Participate in Latino Student Training

On February 27, Microsoft General Counsel & Executive Vice President Brad Smith had a blog post on Microsoft on the Issues about a training that was hosted at the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center in Washington, DC.  Sponsored by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) for the 2015 Emerge Latino Conference, more than 100 Latino student leaders from colleges around the country came to D.C. for the event.

VFI members Ryan Risley and Frank Valdivieso created and hosted two training sessions at the Microsoft Offices to support this effort.   Thanks to their leadership and participation, Microsoft and LULAC had a great event!

If you are interested in learning about these opportunities, please let me know!


Student leaders participate in Microsoft technology training

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Upcoming Webinar: Microsoft + Open Source

Mark your calendars and sign up for Voices for Innovation's next webinar:

Microsoft + Open Source: A New Era with New Opportunities
Mark Hill, Vice President for Open Source Sales and Marketing, Microsoft
Thursday, March 5, 10-10:45AM PST; 1-1:45PM EST

Hear Mark Hill, Vice President for Open Source Sales and Marketing at Microsoft, talk about Microsoft’s new approach to leveraging Open Source software (OSS) to create business value for our customers, and how partners can monetize the new Microsoft open approach to cloud computing. Learn how you can expand your cloud business by helping customers leverage their existing and new OSS technology assets and capabilities as they move to the cloud.

About Guest Presenter Mark Hill 

Mark is a 23 year veteran at Microsoft. In his current role, Mark is responsible for building the Microsoft business around the Open Source ecosystem, and for driving improvements in the perception of Microsoft Openness across customers, partners, and government officials.

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President Puts Cybersecurity Front and Center

Last week, President Obama traveled to Stanford University for the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection. At its heart, the event aimed to demonstrate that the White House recognizes the seriousness of emerging cybersecurity threats and means to increase government engagement on the issue. The economic and security stakes are enormous.

At the event, President Obama signed an executive order urging companies to share data in order to cooperatively address cybersecurity threats. The White House recaps the summit and lays out “Four Principles for Combating Cybersecurity” in a follow-up blog post. The President’s remarks at the events can be viewed in the video below:

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The LEADS Act Will Advance Digital Privacy

Cloud adoption and innovation are driven by user trust. Individuals and businesses must be confident that their private information is secure and protected. Unfortunately, our nation's current legal framework for digital privacy was developed nearly 30 years ago and does not contemplate the era of cloud-stored data or the borderless nature of the Internet.

Now a commonsense reform has been proposed: The Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act of 2015 will strengthen privacy in the digital age and promote trust in technology, while enabling law enforcement to still engage in actions that protect public safety. The LEADS Act has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, sponsored by U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Dean Heller (R-NV), and House introduction is expected soon.

Voices for Innovation strongly endorses this legislation and will be encouraging our members to take action to support this bill. 

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VFI Snapshot: A Visit to the White House

The technology advocate members of Voices for Innovation participate in a wide range of activities all across the country—from our local communities all the way to Washington, D.C. We’ve attended webinars on key technology policy issues, taught “Hour of Code” sessions in schools, and met with government officials in state capitals and on Capitol Hill.

One of VFI’s highlights in the last year was a July 17 roundtable meeting at the White House! About 50 VFI leaders met with senior Administration officials for an open discussion about technology innovation, regulatory issues, and small business challenges.

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VFI Webinar: Build Your Business with State and Local Government

Last week, Voices for Innovation hosted a great webinar with Kim Nelson, Microsoft's Executive Director of State and Local Government Solutions and eGovernment Solutions.  Kim provides some great advice if you want to get into or grow your business in the public sector space. 


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HoloLens Could Be a Game-Changer

Over the years, Microsoft has released a lot of great products that have earned raves from tech reporters and users alike. But the recently demoed HoloLens—let’s call them “augmented reality display goggles”—really knocked the socks off the tech press. Some of what they said…

“A sensational vision of the PC’s future”



“Completely amazing”

The HoloLens doesn’t provide a sharper display or a bigger display—it’s an all new kind of display. The best way to get a feel for it is to watch this video:

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VFI Member AvePoint Signs Student Privacy Pledge

We wanted to note that VFI member company AvePoint has joined Microsoft and more than 85 other companies in signing the Student Privacy Pledge. Thank you for supporting this important initiative! 

If you provide any education product or services and would like to add your name to the pledge, please let us know.  VFI can help connect you.  Please send me an e-mail at


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